Giving Compass' Take:

• Climate and food security experts shed light on how feeding cities sustainably depends on the size of food supply chains and scaling up urban agriculture. 

• How can donors get involved to promote a sustainable food system? What are the barriers to food system solutions that promote sustainability?

• Learn why women are key to a sustainable food system. 

How do you feed a city? It is one of the great questions of our time. After all, for a species that ultimately depends on plants to feed ourselves, we do tend to cram ourselves into places that are rather unfriendly towards them. Our cities are built around cars, offices and perhaps the odd park – not fields of crops.

Professor Christian Bugge Henriksen, a climate and food security expert at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, says that feeding city dwellers sustainably is a ‘triple challenge’.

The first part of it is increasing urbanisation: by 2050, it’s expected that 6.5 billion of us will live in megacities – that’s nearly two out of every three people. The second issue is the negative effects on our climate; forests are cleared to produce farmland, ruminants produce methane, and transportation of food from farms to cities emits huge amounts of carbon dioxide. The third part is malnutrition: many of us, especially in cities, eat too much of the wrong things, particularly processed meat. ‘Currently, 70% of all deaths in Europe can be somehow linked to non-communicable diseases that are affected by malnutrition,’ said Prof. Henriksen.

Truth be told, there isn’t an awful lot of it, which is why Professor Matthew Gorton at Newcastle University, UK, began coordinating the Strength2Food project. This is a sprawling endeavour, looking at short food supply chains in terms of their environmental and social sustainability.

Prof. Gorton says that, in general, the project has found that short food supply chains live up to their good reputation. ‘By and large, they provide better margins to producers, the carbon footprints tend to be lower, with also better indicators for social sustainability,’ he said

Read the full article about feeding cities sustainably by from Horizon Magazine at The Naked Scientists.